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May 21, 2018 | by  | in TV |
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Silicon Valley Season 5

Despite coming into its 5th season, this is perhaps the best time for HBO’s continuously hilarious Silicon Valley to air. As Zuckerberg takes immense heat for the recent breaches of privacy at Facebook, the once positive societal response towards apps and tech companies, now basic components of everyday life, has began to deteriorate. The creators and writers behind Silicon Valley are likely more aware of this than most, finding themselves in a unique situation where they are ready to lampoon an industry just as everyone else is ready to laugh at it. Due to the changes to the industry in which the show operates, it seems this new season may have the capacity to focus more on denouncing and ridiculing its characters, rather than saving them.

At the beginning of Season 5, Richard Hendricks appears to have finally succeeded in the tech industry. Now rich from the invention of a data-compression algorithm, and backed with plenty of funding, the show’s protagonist is now free to pursue his plan of creating a “decentralised internet”, unrestricted by firewalls, government interference, and data-mining. The show has moved beyond the frequent backsliding of Richard’s company, Pied Piper, and has now set its characters up in the unfamiliar circumstances of running an actual business with no oversight or influence.

Most glaringly, it has given Richard’s character the chance to enter deeper into the moral ambiguity of the tech industry, particularly his mounting readiness to undermine others to get what he wants. Such renewed focus on Richard results from the unquiet departure of TJ Miller from the show’s line-up. While once a scene-stealing character who provided some of the bizarre plot progressions, and the largest laughs for audiences, the absence of a character of the magnitude of Miller’s Erlich Bachman allows the growing darker side of Richard to become a more central part of the series. This exploration of Richard and the tension he faces between his longing to succeed and his more philanthropic ideas means that viewers get to see Richard become his own worst enemy and the type of villain he initially despised.

A new narrative direction and a revitalised focus on its characters means that the series is able to avoid being trapped by its same old jokes. And while in part relying on its established story formula and comedic sense that made and continues to make the show great, the creative team have thrown enough curveballs in each episode to maintain the series’ feeling of momentum and unpredictability.

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